Kathie Lee Gifford Does Her Best Chinese Accent

Kathie Lee Gifford did a little Mickey Rooney-Mr. Yunioshi imitation on the “Today” show on Monday. See the video at Gawker: Kathie Lee Gifford Imitates Al Roker Imitating Chinese Person, Adds Helpful Squinting Gesture!

Compared to Mr. Yunioshi, Gifford’s performance was just a little bit of ching-chong on national TV. If you don’t think Mr. Yunioshi was offensive, then the clip of Gifford is nothing. Al Roker is as much at fault as Gifford if you’re going to take offense.

It’s not that people who take issue with Gifford or Mr. Yunioshi don’t have a sense of humor. These sorts of things are a tired act that may seem like harmless banter and probably have no malicious intent, but they evolved from racist origins where the goal was to dehumanize.

There always seem to be polarizing responses to incidents such as this. It’s interesting how different the comments on Gawker are to the comments on the Sacramento Bee stories about deleting scenes from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” the cancellation of its screening and Rooney’s response. Quite a different audience.
This post can also be found on Hyphen magazine’s blog.